En español | Getting ready for a flight doesn't just involve packing up a suitcase anymore — you also have to load up your smartphone or tablet with apps. Here are seven apps worth downloading to help make your next flight more efficient, less stressful and a little more fun:
Your Airline's App
At a minimum, your airline's app will let you review your reservation, check in and have a mobile boarding pass. This is the beauty of smartphones and tablets: You have one less thing to print out and one less piece of paper to keep. While waiting to go through security, just pull up your boarding pass on your screen, and you're on your way. Most apps will also show a seat map, and some will let you manage your mileage and reward points. Jet Blue's app sends check-in reminders and real-time updates with flight delays or changes, and it lists the movies and TV shows you can expect to watch once you're on board. United's app lets you access upgrade and standby lists and share your reservation with your favorite social network.
If you're someone who's frantically searching your email inbox for flight, hotel and car reservations the night before a flight, TripCase is for you. It lets you organize all your reservations in one place, and you can share your itinerary with family and friends — alerting them to travel plan changes and delays. Just forward your online reservation emails to TripCase, and voila! An itinerary is generated for you and stored in the app. Or you can enter the pertinent information in the app manually in the drop-down categories.
If you're a travel nerd who likes to know the exact takeoff and landing times plus the actual in-flight location of your own plane — and of every other plane en route around the world — FlightStats is for you. The app's flight tracker lets you access flight status information by flight number, airport or route. (It even breaks down runway arrival time versus gate arrival time.) Information is updated every few minutes, but location information is delayed about five minutes for safety reasons. Another bonus for the detail-obsessed: The maps are based on the plane's actual route, not an idealized one. Once you've played with this app, you'll never want to go back to the rookie version on your plane's seat-back TV screen.
Need a quick snack during your layover but you're not sure what the best options are? There's an app for that. GateGuru is a worldwide airport guide to restaurants, cafes, shops and even free Wi-Fi. There are also ratings and reviews to help cut down decision-making time. (Why grab a bag of trail mix when you know there's a Shake Shack six shops down?) Along with takeoff and arrival information, the app provides estimated TSA wait times for your various checkpoints.
Need to get comfortable at the airport? LoungeBuddy gives you the scoop on your airport's lounges. View the hours, check out photos and reviews, and book access. Filter the lounges by location, amenities (Wi-Fi, showers, spa services) and guest privileges. There are more than 2,000 lounges featured, so while you're hanging in the lounge enjoying free Wi-Fi and high-quality snacks, browse what other lounges around the world have to offer. (Featured lounges at Dubai International Airport have some amenities that will make you wish your flight was diverted to the United Arab Emirates.)
Nervous fliers should keep this app open during the flight. Created by an airline captain and a licensed therapist, SOAR uses cognitive behavioral techniques to help ease your anxiety. The app offers a "G-force meter," which measures the current G-force of the plane and offers a reassuring explanation that turbulence isn't a safety issue for planes or pilots. The app also provides a "turbulence forecast" so you can anticipate when bumps are coming up, along with other general weather information. For people who take comfort in more information, the app also gives detailed explanations on how flying works and how airplane safety is maintained. It also discusses the backup systems that are in place when something goes wrong and the safety systems that prevent pilot error.
Your phone or tablet is likely already loaded up with apps that provide distraction, such as social media, Words With Friends, solitaire, Candy Crush, sudoku…. But while you have some uninterrupted time on your hands in-flight, why not learn something? How about a few phrases in a foreign language? Even if you aren't traveling out of the country to put your skills to the test, you can quickly pick up some basics and stretch your mind at the same time. Duolingo's simple fonts and icons set the tone: Learning a language can be easy. Each lesson builds on the last, focusing on speaking, listening and translation. The app keeps track of how you're advancing and how often you're practicing. English speakers can learn 16 languages, including Spanish, Danish, Turkish and Ukrainian.